09/27/2019, 13.54
MYANMAR – BANGLADESH – CHINA
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Naypyidaw, Beijing and Dhaka set up working group for Rohingya repatriation

The three countries held an informal meeting on the sidelines of the current UN General Assembly. Since 2017, China has officially mediated between Myanmar and Bangladesh. For China, Myanmar is a key part of its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.

Naypyidaw (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Myanmar, Bangladesh and China have agreed to set up a tripartite working group to directly assess the Rohingya repatriation process.

The decision to set up the group is part of a three-point agreement reached in New York on Monday at an informal meeting held on the side-lines of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly.

Organised by China, the event focused on ways to move forward the repatriation process of refugees who fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar.

The Chinese delegation was led by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Myanmar was represented by Union Minister for the Office of the State Counsellor U Kyaw Tint Swe, whilst Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen represented Bangladesh. Christine Schraner Burgener, special UN secretary general’s special envoy on Myanamar, was also present.

According to Chinese state news agency Xinhua, the parties agreed to three points: returning the refugees to the Myanmar state of Rakhine as soon as possible, the establishment of the joint China-Myanmar-Bangladesh working group, and development as a key to solving the crisis.

After the meeting, AK Abdul Momen told the media that the group's first meeting will take place next October.

Since 2017, China has officially played a mediating role between Myanmar and Bangladesh. Beijing approved a three-point plan to end the conflict in Rakhine and resolve the repatriation process after Wang visited both countries in November 2017.

China also continues to offer strong support to Myanmar, despite accusations that the latter’s treatment of its Rohingya Muslim minority is tantamount to genocide and war crimes.

Likewise, Myanmar is a key part of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). For this reason, it is in Beijing’s interest that the country be stable.

As a part of this initiative, pursued by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s, the two countries signed a framework agreement in November to implement the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone, which will give China access to the India Ocean.

This includes the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), which will start in Kunming (in China’s Yunnan province), cross the Sino-Myanmar border at Muse, and continue to Mandalay, where it will split into two. One section will run west to Kyaukpyu, on the Bay of Bengal; the other will run south to Yangon.

The route to and from the port of Kyaukpyu is parallel to the gas and oil pipelines already built by China, which became operational in 2013 and 2017 respectively.

The Kyaukpyu link will allow China to reduce the travel distance for shipments from Africa, West Asia and South Asia by 5,000 kilometres.

The CMEC will also enable Chinese ships and oil tankers to bypass the Strait of Malacca, making it more difficult for potential enemies to cut off its supply by blocking the Strait during a conflict.

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